People's private homes are emerging as a "hotspot" for Covid-19 outbreaks as the virus takes hold among households, it emerged yesterday.
There were 96 outbreaks of the virus in the course of a week up to last Sunday as families interact more outside their homes and bring the infection back with them.
They also include outbreaks due to house parties where young people socialise without observing physical distancing.
Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said yesterday some of the house parties had involved between 40 and 50 people in some cases.
It was decided yesterday to restrict house gatherings to a maximum of 10 people from no more than four households.
It comes as the Cabinet yesterday postponed the opening of remaining pubs and allowing larger gatherings until August 10 as the R number - the rate at which the virus is transmitted - rose to between 1.2 and 1.8.
If it rises above one, this means people infected with the virus are spreading it to others at a rate faster than one-to-one, which could see the disease spread worryingly. Fourteen new cases of the virus were reported yesterday which, although fewer than previous days, shows sustained spread of infection at higher levels than two weeks ago.
Another two deaths from the virus were notified, bringing the toll to 1,748.
A new study of 149 countries, including Ireland, published today shows that physical distancing measures, such as closing schools, workplaces, and public transport, and restricting mass gatherings, are associated with a meaningful reduction in new Covid-19 cases.
The study in the 'British Medical Journal' also confirms that implementing lockdown restrictions earlier was associated with a greater reduction in new cases.
In the Republic, the first case of Covid-19 was reported on February 29 and lockdown was implemented in March.
The study by the Department of Population Health in the University of Oxford said that without evidence for effective treatments or a successful vaccine for Covid-19, physical distancing has been recommended to minimise transmission, and thus reduce risk for the most vulnerable in society.
"Physical distancing also therefore reduces pressure on public health and healthcare services, and allows time for the prevention and management of the disease.
"But 'real-life' data on the effectiveness of physical distancing measures are scarce."
To address this evidence gap, a team of UK and US researchers set out to compare the change in new cases of Covid-19 before and up to 30 days after implementation of physical distancing measures in the early stages of the pandemic.
Their findings are based on daily reported cases of Covid-19 for 149 countries or regions that implemented one or more of five physical distancing measures: closures of schools, workplaces, and public transport, restrictions on mass gatherings and public events, and restrictions on people's movement within countries or regions between January 1 and May 30.
On average, physical distancing measures were first implemented nine days after the first reported case. However, some countries took longer to implement measures - including the US, which took 40 days.
On average, implementation of any physical distancing measure was associated with an overall reduction in Covid-19 incidence of 13pc over the study period.
Dr Glynn said yesterday: "We are at a sensitive stage in the pandemic - this requires caution and collective effort to hold firm and keep the virus suppressed in the community."
He asked people to follow public health advice.